Saturday, April 24, 2010
NFC North draft analysis
By Kevin Seifert ESPN.com
Let's pull some highlights -- and lowlights -- of the NFC North's 2010 draft performance:
Sometimes the best decision is the most obvious one. Detroit systematically dismissed every dubious reason for passing over the draft's best player and jumped at the opportunity to select Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Lions general manager Martin Mayhew wasn't concerned that defensive tackles typically aren't paid the kind of money he'll be required to give Suh as the No. 2 overall pick. Coach Jim Schwartz didn't care that Suh played in a scheme that is fundamentally different from the Lions'. The medical staff found no reason to be concerned about Suh's past knee injuries.
The bottom line is that Suh absolutely destroyed opponents on the college level last season and has the unique athletic skills to control games on the NFL level. He has an opportunity to be the Lions' best defensive player in decades and be a cornerstone of their roster resurgence. We have to be careful about saying anything with certainty when it comes to the draft, but as of today, I think the Lions would have displayed a colossal example of overthinking if they had drafted anyone other than Suh.
Minnesota has sentenced itself to at least one more year of long-term uncertainty at the most important position in sports. This might not have been the best quarterback class of all time, but as we discussed earlier this month, you can't get a hit if you won't take the bat off your shoulder. At some point, you've got to take a cut.
(And I'm sorry. Taking UAB quarterback Joe Webb at the bottom of the sixth round doesn't count. Webb is probably going to be moved to receiver. That's more like having a wild pitch hit your bat in self-defense: There's no intent. OK, enough baseball references for one day.)
We're expecting Brett Favre to return in 2010. And even if he retires, I doubt the Vikings would have replaced him with a rookie quarterback this season. But the two quarterbacks on the roster, Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels, looked unprepared for the job in training camp before Favre signed last summer. It's hard to believe that either player projects as the Vikings' long-term starter.
Not many thought Iowa's Bryan Bulaga would be available when the Packers picked at No. 23.
It takes some time to develop a young starter, and the Vikings keep pushing back their timetable. They've been patching the position together for five years, dating to the career-alerting injury Daunte Culpepper suffered in 2005.
I guess there's always next year.
Most surprising move
Sometimes the biggest surprise is what doesn't happen. And I don't know many people who thought Green Bay would be able to draft Iowa left tackle Bryan Bulaga without first trading up in the first round.
Perhaps he was a classic case of mock drafts overtaking the public consciousness, but Bulaga was considered a top-10 pick by some media analysts. Given how difficult it is to find long-term left tackles, it seemed almost certain that the Packers would have to sacrifice part of their draft in order to get Bulaga or any of the other top players at the position.
But an unpredicted run on other positions left Bulaga still on the board when the Packers' spot at No. 23 approached. The Packers snapped him up, and the fortuitous turn of events allowed general manager Ted Thompson the flexibility he needed to address other positions more aggressively.
Had he traded up in the first round to get Bulaga, Thompson would have been less likely to move up in the third round to grab Georgia Tech safety Morgan Burnett. Bulaga's slide, therefore, allowed Thompson to fill a top need and also walk away with an additional likely long-term starter at another position.
File it away
Minnesota gave us an intriguing long-term question to follow. Whom would you rather have: Bruising tailback Toby Gerhart and high-upside defensive end Everson Griffen? Or explosive Cal tailback Jahvid Best?
That's one way to look at the trade that allowed Detroit to move up four spots, from No. 34 to No. 30, and grab the tailback they coveted most. The Vikings clearly intended to grab a runner as well, as evidenced by their second-round move Friday to take Gerhart. But by giving up the 30th spot, the Vikings also moved up into Detroit's higher slot in the fourth round (No. 100 overall). It's pretty unlikely Griffen would have been available at their original spot (No. 128 overall).
Who knows how this gambit will work out. If Best proves to be a dynamic playmaker, the Vikings might rue their decision to let the Lions move up. But it's also possible that the net contributions of Gerhart and Griffen will outweigh those of Best. Let's meet here in a few years and we'll start drawing conclusions.